(1846 -     )

Eloquent Advocate of the Separation of the Church and State



Lawyer, diplomat and framer of the Malolos Constitution, Arcadio del Rosario y Narciso was born on November 13, 1846 in Pandacan. He was the son of Bonifacio del Rosario and Severina Narciso. He studied at the Collegio Real de San Jose and the University of Sto. Tomas, where he obtained his law degree.


Del Rosario served as subdirector of internal revenue, and, later, as notary public for the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac. He joined the revolutionary caused in 1897 as one of the Filipino exiles who composed the so-called Hong Kong Committee, which served as government-in-exile for Aguinaldo and his followers after the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. Disharmony caught up with the wake of Commodore George Dewey’s victory over the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay. It was split into two factions, one favoring with the annexation of the Philippines to the United States, and the other, for continuing the battle for Philippine Independence. Del Rosario and some of his fellow exiles, like MA. Jose Basa, Gracio Gonzaga, Doroteo Cortez, and Maximo Cortez and his wife Estaquia, offered their money to the U.S. Others expressed the desire to become an American Citizens. Still others wanted an American protectorate for the Philippines. On the other hand, there were those whom opted for genuine independence for the country, and contributed arms and funds for the caused.


Upon his return to the Philippines, Del Rosario was named peace commissioner of the revolutionary government. His job was to established peace in the Central Luzon area. Later, he became a member of the short board of the short-lived Literary University of the Philippines, which was created on October 19, 1898. As a delegate of the Malolos Congress, Del Rosario was active during the deliberations on the proposed constitution. He vigorously opposed the provision allowing the union of the church and states, as advocated by Felipe Calderon.


In his defense of the church state-union, Calderon argued that all state had state religions, that the separation of the church and the state was utopian in concept and was impractical, that the Filipino clergy need no to be feared because they had demonstrated their unwavering patriotism, that the Catholic Church was the only bond between the Tagalogs and other linguistic groups, and that the separation of their church and states was suicidal. In response Del Rosario said that it was not the clergy which he weary about but the papacy, whi9ch had influenced the temporal matters such as state policies not just in the Philippines but in many other countries in the course of history. He then enumerated 12 reasons why he considered having a state religion repugnant.


The bitter debate over the church-state union took much of the time of the Malolos Congress, with the issue remaining unresolved for more than a month. Battle lines were drawn, with the radicals, led by Antonio Luna, favoring the separation of the church and state, and the conservatives led by Calderon, seeking the union of the two entities. A stalemate ensued during the initial vote. It was resolved, however, when Pedro Paterno changed his original position and later voted for separation. The Congress adopted Del Rosario’s amendment under the Title III of the constitution, which states:” The state shall recognized freedom and equality of all cults as well as the separation of the Church and States”.


           This Provision has since been adopted by subsequent Philippine constitutions, including that of 1987.


In 1899, Del Rosario rejoined the Hong Kong Committee, which had been renamed the Hong Kong Revolutionary Committee, to campaign for international recognition of the fledgling Philippine Republic. The committee served as a listening post and propagandas agency for the revolutionary government, aside from functioning as its procurement office for the acquisition of arms and other supplies for the Filipino forces now fighting the Americans. It also conducted diplomatic negotiations with foreign governments and vigorously opposed the signing and ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the US Senate.


After the fall of the Republic, Del Rosario returned to Manila. He was appointed justice of the peace in his native Pandacan. He authored books on Spanish laws still in force under American rule. Del Rosario was married to Florencia Zamora



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